The best of all possible verdicts: guilty
Soap operas can't afford American lawyers in their own court cases, for reasons made plain by the coincidence of Brookside's murder trial with the all-important DNA evidence in the OJ trial. The procedure of the real case is ruinously laborious - an abrasive trudge by which the defence lawyers mill the evidence to a fine powder in the hope that the jury won't be able to remember its original shape. This was particularly important last week, when the prosecution pulled out their trump card - the fuzzy bar-codes which pin Simpson to the scene of the crime. Not incontrovertibly, as even the experts admitted, though the one in 170 million odds against the blood being someone else's made the reservation sound academic. Are the defence dismayed? No sirree. They get a chance to show their client that he's getting his money's worth from these million-dollar fog-machines.
One lawyer levered the answer he wanted out of the expert witness after coaxing her up a teetering pile of hypothetical assumptions; another used shampoo-commercial graphics to imply that the original samples had been so degraded that they were unreliable; another, rather more pertinently, put the DNA scientist on the spot. "How do you know that?" he asked simply, after one of her more crushing findings. The long pause that followed was the most dramatic moment in BBC2's weekly round-up of the court proceedings, a glimpse into an epistemological abyss. The defence would like the jury to fall in and never get out.
There are experts in the Brookside trial, too, though not all the obvious ones. There's a toxicologist on hand to testify to the effects of dinitrophenols, the weed-killer with which Beth and Mandy drenched Trevor before planting him (they didn't want unsightly patio-heave, after all). But where's the specialist in violent domestic abuse, who could point out that Mandy's inconsistency of behaviour is part of the pattern of abuse? Come to that, where are the local women's groups, who would surely have been attracted by this doorstep example of the inequities of the justice system? Perhaps the scriptwriters are holding them in reserve for an appeal.
What you got instead was a courtroom drama based on rhetoric - pleading, aggressive, insinuating by turn and quite unlike the dogged document-pounding of the OJ Trial. This is understandable - whatever else it might be, a fictional court case simply can't be a trial to watch, and Brookside's wasn't, supplying some fine moments of aria acting and avoiding the more obviously nudging reaction shots.
The verdict is delivered tonight. The jury, I must say, were admirably stony-faced, giving away no clues about their prejudices but, though there's been a lot of hype about the fact that two alternatives have been filmed, I would bet on a conviction myself. After all, what producer could pass- up the opportunities a guilty verdict would deliver - the heart-breaking separations, Rachel's remorse over her false testimony, prison-cell protests and pavement demonstrations? I'm sure the jurors will do their duty by the script.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 3 The Grace Dent Christmas Questionnaire
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
EastEnders Christmas special, review: Brilliant Danny Dyer glues you to your seat
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader